Milwaukee Brewers: Will Stearns rely on an internal option at 2B?

SURPRISE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: AFL West All-Star, Keston Hiura #23 of the Milwaukee Brewers warms up before the Arizona Fall League All Star Game at Surprise Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: AFL West All-Star, Keston Hiura #23 of the Milwaukee Brewers warms up before the Arizona Fall League All Star Game at Surprise Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

It is well known that the Milwaukee Brewers are in the market for a second baseman, but could GM David Stearns rely on his in-house candidates to fill that role in 2019?

It’s been a few seasons since the Milwaukee Brewers have been able to find consistency at the second base position. With a team poised to make another World Series run in 2019, it remains a weak spot on the roster.

Given that the Brewers need is really just as a stop-gap for one season, it makes it more challenging to bring in that big name player that everyone wants.

GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell have shown that they can be creative in how they utilize their players and that may be what they have to do with the current second basemen on their roster for 2019.

Free agent options

The good news for the Milwaukee Brewers when it comes to free agency is that there are a lot of options at second base, with few teams that need to fill that role.

However, with Daniel Murphy and Ian Kinsler signing multi-year deals, the chances of the Brewers signing a top-flight second baseman to just a one-year deal are lowered.

Players such as Jed Lowrie and D.J. LeMahieu who could make a significant impact on the Brewers will be searching for a multi-year contract. At this point, it appears they will receive it.

There is the potential that the free agent second baseman who would be willing to sign that one year contract may not be a significant upgrade over what Milwaukee already has on the roster.

An exception is Troy Tulowitzki, who will sign a one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum and could provide a spark offensively. But keep in mind that there are many teams vying for his services and Tulowitzki has been very injury prone.

Perez and Spangenberg platoon

Hernan Perez and Cory Spangenberg are very similar players, from their versatility defensively, down to their career numbers.

Although individually their career numbers are nothing to be excited about, in a platoon role they could make a bigger impact offensively.

Perez as a right-handed batter has had far more success against left-handed pitching, as expected. His career slash line against lefties is .273/.293/.444 and an OPS of .737.

While Spangenberg, a left-handed batter has fared much better over his career when facing righties. He’s posted a slash line of .271/.331/.423, with an OPS of .754 against right-handed pitching.

In this case, who the opposing team has on the mound would dictate who is starting at second base for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Utilizing Perez and Spangenberg in this capacity may not be the best long-term option, but it could be a stop-gap for 2019 or whenever Keston Hiura makes his debut.

Tyler Saladino and Mauricio Dubon

Milwaukee certainly isn’t lacking options at second base within the organization as Tyler Saladino and Mauricio Dubon are two more players that could help fill the role.

In a move that surprised some, the Milwaukee Brewers tendered a contract to Saladino for the 2019 season. A move that added depth to the infield.

Saladino made 30 starts and appeared in 58 total games, but  could never play well enough to consistently stay in the lineup.

In those appearances he recorded a slash line of .246/.299/.397 and an OPS of .696. Most likely Saladino won’t be an everyday starter in 2019. He is an option to come off the bench or to make some starts if there is an injury or rest is needed.

With the way Dubon was playing last season in Colorado Springs, he was all set to make his Major League debut. Unfortunately an ACL tear ended his season prematurely.

Before his injury, Dubon was on fire in Triple-A. In 27 games he had a slash line of .343/.348/.574 with an OPS of .922.

There’s the potential for Dubon to make an impact in 2019 but we need to keep in mind that he is coming off of a major injury and to this point has no big league experience.

Waiting on Keston Hiura

Stearns has already made it very clear that Hiura will not be on the Opening Day roster, and for good reason.

Even though he’s flown through the minor league system, Double-A is the highest level he has reached. Hiura needs to perform in Triple-A San Antonio before getting his shot at the big league level.

If all goes as many expect, Hiura could possibly be in Milwaukee by early summer. However expectations need to be tempered, in case he isn’t ready right away or doesn’t perform at a high level initially.

Nevertheless, if Stearns knows that Hiura arriving over the summer is a strong possibility, he might not make aggressive moves in free agency at second base.

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The Milwaukee Brewers have a number of options internally but a number of question marks as well. Yet finding a top of the line player to fill the second base role in free agency for just one season could pose a difficult challenge. We’ve seen the Brewers utilize players in an unconventional way before, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they do it again with the in-house options they already have.